Passage I (Commerce)
HD video 10’
Sound by Vito Willems
Emma van der Put (2022)
Courtesy tegenboschvanvreden, Amsterdam
The video Passage I (Commerce) is the first part of a series of three films, constructed out of photographs that Emma van der Put made during her walks through Brussels in the year 2020. The city as it was just before the pandemic, seemed to have been paused and could now be contemplated in silence. Like wandering through the ‘image’ of the city, stripped of its usual dynamic and social life, it seemed as if underlying structures suddenly came to the forefront. It struck Van der Put how strongly the public space was dominated by imperative commandments, implemented wishes and the urge for endless growth.
The film Passage I (Commerce) focusses on the area around the ‘Galerie du Roi’, a 19th-century shopping arcade that is still present in the centre of Brussels. Here, the ideas of the city, industry and consumerism of 150 years ago echo and mix with the latest fashion and the crisis of the moment.
Together with sound artist Vito Willems, Van der Put revisited the locations where she collected her photographic footage. Willems recorded the silence, the frequency of the space shaped by the architecture that is structuring this area of the city. Moving from one space to the other, the silence changed noticeably in character. Both in sound and image, the film Passage I (Commerce) seeks to bring forward the subliminal messages that are conveyed within this designated public space.
Passage I, II, III
The Passage trilogy (2021 - 2024) consists of a series of films in which Emma van der Put reflects on three different area’s of the city of Brussels: the commercial centre of the city, which is shaped around the 19th century shopping arcade 'Galerie Royal', the former industrial ‘Zone-canal’, where large-scale urban developments are currently taking place and the European Quarter, where the political centre of the city is situated. All three of these locations have their origins in the urban developments of Brussels in the 19th century, from that moment on these parts of the city were further modelled, assigned and structured in accordance with their particular function, objective and agenda.
In this longterm research, Van der Put wants to observe how each location, departing from its specific purpose and ambition, is guiding the dynamics of the site and the significance of (visual) language present in these three public environments. When traversing these areas of the city, there is a sense of being guided, being consistently noticed and addressed.
The Passage series aims to reflect on the specific experience of being a passer-by within these different public environments. Over the course of three years, Van der Put collected an archive of material, making numerous repetitive walks within these specific areas of the city. In the films, she seeks to translate both the physiological and psychological experience of passing through these sites.
Departing from the photographic archive Van der Put shot, the editing brings movement to the still images that she captured by slowly scanning over the photographs, guiding the viewer from space to space, picking up on details, scraps and fragments, that together gradually accumulate into a (subjectively driven) experience of the place.